McCONNELLSVILLE — The Harden Furniture plant complex is coming to an end, with the 175-year-old company’s assets being sold in separate stages.
Its equipment has been sold at an online auction, after another company’s plans to move production to North Carolina were recently halted, and a final liquidation sale of products and parts will be held Saturday with a lumber sale to follow soon after.
The equipment had been owned by an Illinois-based lender, while the inventory is owned by an LLC owned by Greg Harden, the former CEO who was removed this summer and was the fifth generation of Hardens to head the company. He also owns the plant complex itself, and is working on a potential sale of the site.
“It is sad to see what was one of the best facilities in the county and almost certainly the most talented workforce come to an end,” Greg Harden said Thursday. “Ultimately we lost the ‘volume’ residential business that had been the backbone of the business for decades.”
Harden noted “our commercial business was growing, but we could not make up for the loss of residential quickly enough and the private equity owners who purchased the company neglected to provide the funding necessary for a change in strategy or to provide enough time to bridge to a different model.”
The Harden plant had operated sporadically this year amid ongoing financial struggles. It had about 175 employees before the sale last January of company assets at an auction to Big Shoulders Capital of Illinois, according to the Furniture Today publication. The equipment and brand-name assets were to be acquired from Big Shoulders by Ison Furniture Mfg. Inc. of North Carolina which planned to move production to that state, but Furniture Today reported last week that deal had fallen through.
Ison Furniture Mfg. CEO Philip Ison said his contract to purchase various assets was cancelled about a month ago, said the Furniture Today report. The report said Ison indicated that the amount of money it would take to turn the operation around ultimately did not make business sense.
The equipment in the Harden plant “was sold via online auction and it is being removed currently,” said Greg Harden. Another remaining step would be to sell the Harden brand name and intellectual property including product designs, said Furniture Today. Those also had been owned by Big Shoulders Capital.
As for the final liquidation sale of products and parts which is Saturday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Greg Harden noted “once the parts, finished and unfinished products are sold Saturday I will organize the lumber for a sale that will run from approximately Nov. 26 into December. We have over $200,000 of lumber — cherry, walnut, white oak, ash, maple and curly maple.”
The Harden Furniture Facebook page says “Harden Furniture is closing its doors and its existing inventory of unfinished goods, various parts and lumber have to be liquidated. A few finished pieces also are available.”
Greg Harden commented “I am cleaning out the facility currently as I am confident that a deal to sell the plant will close prior to the end of the year.” In September he had referred to a separate “third party” that had submitted a purchase offer for the plant complex. He added Thursday he is “not at liberty to divulge the identity of buyer, but they do plan to use the facility for manufacturing and create jobs.”
Regarding the furniture manufacturing business, meanwhile, Greg Harden remarked “it is clear that there are some products that cannot be made in U.S. anymore.” He said “retailers are more concerned about price points that will appeal to a consumer who has little desire for hand craftsmanship or outstanding quality. Some have survived but even the brands that are left are importing an increasing percentage of their product....”